Jico SAS vs Neo-SAS(S) vs Neo-SAS(R)


For those analogue ‘tragics’ comfortable enough in their own skins to keep playing MM cartridges despite the media and peer-pressure propaganda towards MCs…….the success of Jico and their after-market replacement styli has been good news.

Of particular delight to that minority still playing vintage MM cartridges……the success of the SAS stylus from Jico.….. has transformed cartridges like the Shure V15, Victor X1 and Z1 and Garrott P77 into world-beaters amongst the cartridge elite.

 

What is so special about the SAS stylus?

It seems that Jico has invented a profile more radical that the standard ‘Line-Contact’, VdH or Shibata…..

An inspection of the diamond under a 60x loupe displays cutting-edge profiles I have never before seen on a stylus.

Jico claims that this profile better fits the record groove and is more akin to the profile of the cutting-lathe stylus.

The better the stylus fits into the record groove, the less distortion is caused by high-amplitude reproduction

But claims are pretty meaningless in the analogue world unless they are backed up……

And with the SAS stylus, the performance matches the ‘hype’….

In all three cartridges I have used….original 35 year Garrott P77, Shure V15/III and Victor Z1….the SAS has transformed each one, from a very good performer to a superlative one.

The improvement over the original manufacturer’s stylus is muti-faceted…

From frequency response (bass and treble in particular) to transparency to sound-stage (both width and depth) but most importantly……to the emotional content able to be extracted from the vinyl grooves.

My three SAS-equipped MM cartridges leapt into contention as ‘the best’ of the 80 or so cartridges I have owned and bettered all but 3 or 4 of the 20 LOMC cartridges I have owned……

 

So imagine the reaction when Jico announced 2 years ago that production of the SAS stylus was being suspended……?

The original SAS stylus came with a boron cantilever and there appears to be a problem with the world’s supply (or price) of boron….?

Now I have a preference for beryllium as a cantilever material but because of safety standards surrounding the toxicity of beryllium during the manufacturing process……it is no longer offered as a cantilever material.

Why they can still use it for dome tweeters is a mystery to me….?

Boron is used as a cantilever material by many cartridge manufacturers…..Dynavector, ZYX, Lyra to name but a few….so why Jico is no longer supplying it is puzzling.

Six months ago, Jico announced the re-introduction of the SAS stylus but this time with a choice of sapphire or tapered-ruby cantilever….both at massive price hikes to the boron.

The tapered-ruby is almost 4 times the cost of the original boron cantilever…..


A comparison of the three SAS assemblies is revealing……

With the original boron cantilever, the actual stylus is buried under an epoxy glue sarcophagus in a manner that can only be described as rather crude….

Just the tip of the faceted diamond is visible poking out of the epoxy…

The new synthetic jewel cantilevers are different animals entirely.

The sapphire appears translucent (not blue) with the nude stylus expertly and neatly cut into the jewelled rod whilst the ruby is even more impressive, again having a nude diamond cut into the ruby rod which has been ‘shaved’ down 2 or 3 sides to create the ‘taper’. And this rod glows ‘pink’…..justifying its premium pricing ?

 

I picked the Garrott P77 for this test because the neo-SAS(R) was not yet available for the Z1 and the V15/III, though wonderful…..was not quite up to the standards of the other two……

 

When I received the two new SAS styli, I was in two minds about them…..

Could the simple change in cantilever material make a noticeable difference in performance?........and for the price increases, it had better!!

There is little doubt in my mind that the SAS’s performance boost was due primarily to the radical stylus shape and as noted earlier…..boron is a respectable cantilever material utilised by high-performance exotic MC cartridges the world over.

If sapphire or ruby were to offer even increased performance benefits over the boron…..then why wouldn’t other manufacturers have already changed over?

These thoughts mingled with the aesthetic appreciation of the ‘nude’ mounting and the ‘glowing’ jewelled rods as I swapped out my original SAS and went straight to the neo-SAS(R)….

 

If I was expecting a revelation…..I was disappointed.

In fact, if I was expecting a difference …..I was disappointed.

No matter how many albums I played (and each album side I would change styli)….I could discern no differences.

And I really tried to hear differences….

At one point I thought I had picked the only audible difference as being slightly better bass response with the two jewelled cantilevers….

This was revealed by albums from Massive Attack and Dead Can Dance.

So I brought in the decider for bass reproduction…..the Barber ‘Adagio for Strings’ on Gary Karr’s ‘En Aranjuez con tu Amor’ (Firebird) sends even my Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers into fibrillation mode…..

But no……seemingly equal bass response…..

 

So there you have it…..

For two weeks I have exhausted my test-record catalogue, loosened the stylus-plug-insert on my Garrott P77, annoyed my wife and angered the neighbours….

And I can report that I am able to discern no differences….absolutely none….between the original SAS the neo-SAS(S) and the neo-SAS(R).

I’m sure that there will be those who will claim they can hear differences and the differences are like ‘night and day’…..

Good luck to them.

Maybe they can….maybe they can’t.

At least I will have no need to buy replacement neo-SAS styli for my Z1 and V15/III.

 

The good thing to take away from this exercise is this:-

The neo-SAS stylus assembly from Jico is just as good as the original SAS and for that…..the analogue world should be eternally grateful….

 

 

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Nice report, halcro. If it ain’t, it ain’t.

Best to you,
Dave
Thanks Dave.
Appreciate the feedback...😃
Regards
Henry
Very interesting, Henry, thank you for evaluating & sharing those observations!

Just out of curiosity, did you happen to test resonance with these styli/cantilvers vs. the original SAS? Guessing that since you heard no differences that compliance remained as it was, but I didn't know if changing cantilever material would affect compliance in general when using the same cartridge body.

After all, I am always looking for more variables to futz over with analog. Cheers,
Spencer  
Didn't think to check resonant frequency Spencer.....
Good idea...😎
Will do it the next couple of days...
Regards
Henry

@halcro  Which NEO SAS is compatible with Garrorr p77 ?  

P.S. My mate just purchased two Neo SAS (S) for his pair of Technics 205c mk4 (repaired by Axel with nagaoka cantilever/tip before).    


Chakster...the Neo-SAS Stylus 1 ( which is their standard SAS) is the one that fits the P77.
It's available in both S and R versions.

Dear Chakster, The author of Hamlet asked the question:''what is

in a name?''. According to logic different names  with the same

reference can be substituted for each other ''salva veritate''. So

whatever is true about Vienna is also true about Wien , Wenen,

 Bec, etc. However for the manufacturer new names mean new

prices not necessary  anything (else) new.